What's New

Employers: Quick and Easy Management with Contractor Drop-Down Menus

Have you wondered how to give your contractor a bonus? Or what time it is in your contractor’s locale?  Well, we have now made it much easier to do the most common management tasks, all in one place.As part of our ongoing efforts to improve usability and enhance the My Contractors hub, we have added a drop-down menu next to each contractor’s name, where you can easily perform key actions related to the contract. The tasks include: send a message, view the Work Diary, change the Weekly Limit, end the contract, and more.
To take advantage of the new drop-downs, be sure you are using the new My Contractors page. If you are in the old Team Room, click on the link, “Test drive our new Manage Home Page”    Let us know what you think of the new drop-down menu, what’s working and what other improvements you would like to see.  Visit our community forum post to discuss with other users, or send us direct feedback via our survey.

Introducing the oDesk Skills Dictionary

As a contractor, you are always trying to make a great impression on potential employers. The right words matter in making that impression, so we’re thrilled to announce the oDesk Skills Dictionary — a comprehensive list of standardized skills on oDesk.

Standardization helps ensure you find and receive the most relevant jobs for your experience and expertise by ensuring everyone is using the same terms for the skills they are searching on. This diminishes any cultural and language obstacles encountered when selecting skills on oDesk, and removes the need to list multiple versions of the same skill (“PHP, PHP programmer, PHP developer, PHP expert,” etc.).

As a testament to how important your skills are, they are now showcased at the top of the new contractor profile. Updating your skills will allow you to best take advantage of the new profile design, so make sure you do so. Read more about the new contractor profile here.

How it Works

When selecting skills for your profile, begin typing your skill, then choose from the available suggestions.

Newly registered contractors are already taking advantage of the new system.

For existing contractors, we will guide you through the process of updating your skills. The next time you log in to oDesk, you will be directed to a list of suggested skills from the oDesk Skills Dictionary, based on the ones currently listed on your profile. You will then have until January 13, 2012, to verify the suggestions, rank the skills, and approve your own custom list. The changes will go live on your profile after you complete the transition form. Starting January 13, all matched skills will be transitioned and any remaining non-standardized skills will be removed from profiles.

The new profile style has phased out skills descriptions and experience information. You may want to make a copy of these descriptions for your own records before updating your skills (to do so, press the View Skills button in the profile editor). For contractors who do not complete the transition form, the descriptions we remove will be sent to you in an email for future reference, as you may wish to put this information in your profile objective, or include it in cover letters when applying for jobs.

FAQs:

  • What should I do if I cannot find a skill in the Skills Dictionary? How can I add a skill? Don’t worry — there is likely a similar skill already listed in the Dictionary, and suggesting a new one is easy.
  • How is the Skills Dictionary used within oDesk? It is used to help you attract the right jobs by using the right words.
  • How will the skills appear in my profile? Take a look at an community forum.

New on oDesk: Streamlined Contractor Profiles

Today we are really excited to announce a brand new design for contractor profile pages!

The contractor profile is at the heart of oDesk. Employers depend on it to assess the capabilities of any contractor, and contractors depend on it to attract employers and grow their careers.

Knowing how important the contractor profile is, we have redesigned it to be more useful and intuitive. The new design presents all key information in one clean, streamlined page; this makes it easier for employers to assess the capabilities of contractors, and for contractors to showcase information they want employers to see.

Here are some of the highlights of this new design:

  • One simple page. All key profile information is now on a single page.
  • Skills are at the top. Employers often look to the skills section first to determine if the contractor would be a good fit for the position. We are also standardizing skills across oDesk to make it even easier for employers to identify the right contractor for the job. Contractors: make sure to update your skills so you can get the most out of the new contractor profile design. Read more about transitioning your skills here.
  • Cleaner, modern design.  It’s easier to read, and we’ve removed extraneous information so employers can focus in on what’s most important to them.

Check out the new profile design today, and share your thoughts about it with the oDesk community.

The New oDesk Site — Online Work at Your Fingertips

Today we are very excited to announce the launch of oDesk’s brand new navigation and site design! We have been transitioning to this new look for several months, and we have received great feedback from our users. The site is designed to be more intuitive, highlighting the most important features by displaying them front and center. The new design also gives us the flexibility to continuously improve the site to meet our users’ needs.

If you have any questions about the new site, please see our FAQs (for employers and contractors) or the “Where Is” table (for employers and contractors).

The site is now organized around core functions. Here’s a quick tour:

 

If you have not tried the new site yet, check out these enhancements:

For contractors:

  • Find Jobs. Found under the “Find Work” tab, this is your home page when looking for work. Get the latest status on your job applications, search for job opportunities that fit your skills, and easily update your profile.
  • My Jobs. This is your home page when doing client work. Check all your active contracts, track your time billed this week, and see total earnings available to withdraw.

For employers:

  • Job Postings. Found under the “Recruit” tab, this is your home page for finding the perfect person for your project. See all your open jobs and the latest activity, easily post a new job, and search for the right contractor.
  • My Contractors. Found under the “Manage My Team” tab, this is your home page for managing contractors. Track who is currently working or see the last time they worked, view total hours billed this week, and see upcoming payments.

If you have feedback about the new site, we want to hear it! Please visit our community forum to share your thoughts.

New tools to manage your applicant list and find your best candidates

It’s exciting to receive a lot of applicants to your job.  But, then you need to turn your attention to figuring out who is the best fit for your job.   And, the more applicants you have, the harder this can be.  We’ve learned that most employers at oDesk do a quick, initial assessment of each applicant, shorten their list to their top candidates, and then review their shortlist in more detail.  To make this process easier, we’ve added some new tools.

From your applicant list, you can:

 See a summary of each applicant.  Quickly flip through each of your applicants without loading a new page.

 For applicants that are a good fit, shortlist them.  You can then review in detail only these  shortlisted candidates.

 For applicants you are less interested in, hide them.  You can unhide them later if you need more candidates.

Here’s a view of the new Quickview pane, or see our short video here.

If you have big applicant lists, we know list management is critical.  Along with these new tools, you can also still decline applicants that are not right for your job, and flag applicants that aren’t appropriate.

We think these new tools will lead to easier list management and faster hires – which is good for employers and contractors.  Let us know what you think, in our community forum.

New for Contractors – My Jobs Application on oDesk

Following the launch of our new navigation and Find Work application, we are pleased to announce the launch of our second contractor-specific application: My Jobs.

On the My Jobs application, you will have access to all the tools that allow you to successfully manage and complete your active contracts: My Jobs, Contracts and Reports.

Let’s take a closer look at the new My Jobs application…

My Jobs Home – NEW!

 

Here, you will see the list of jobs that you have been hired for, the time you have logged, and your earnings for each position.

  • Track work progress
  • See all your active jobs and easily message your employer.
  • Manage proactively
  • Review your jobs that are starting soon.
  • For Hourly Jobs – See the hours and earnings logged so far this week and review the Work Diary, Timesheet and Contract Details for a particular job.  Easily know when you’re approaching (or have surpassed) a weekly limit.
  • For Fixed-Price Jobs – Review the total payments received next to the original bid price.
  • Track financial activity
  • Review current earnings and time logged.
  • Conveniently access your available earnings.

 

Contracts

 
On Contracts, you can easily review the details of your work contracts – both current and past.

  • Access details about your contracts – rate, weekly limits, weekly and total hours worked, etc.
  • Search on all contracts – both current and past.
  • Download contracts in CSV form for easy integration with accounting systems.

 

Reports

 

Reports gives you a set of snapshot views into your work history.

  • Timelogs – An easy view into the payments and the work done during the week.
  • My Weekly Time Sheet – A summary of work done by you for each employer during a given week.
  • My Timesheet – A detailed report of work done by you during a custom time period.
  • Time Analyze – A configurable report of hours or earnings during a selected time period.

We’d like to hear from you–what’s your perspective on our new navigation and My Jobs application?

Send us direct feedback via our survey or visit our community forum post.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Employers can now pay with PayPal

We have great news about your payment options.  Whether you are in the U.S. or one of the many countries supported by PayPal, you can now use PayPal to pay for your work on oDesk!

Here’s how it works:

  • Use PayPal to pre-fund your oDesk account balance, with any amount you choose.
  • Your balance is drawn down as you accrue charges.
  • Add to your balance at anytime.

Currently, PayPal is only available to U.S. or international employers with a verified credit card on file with oDesk.   For U.S. employers, you will need either a PayPal linked bank account or PayPal balance to fund your payment.  And, please note, payments are currently only accepted in USD.

Go to your Payment Methods, to Pay with PayPal now.

This is just one of the many enhancements we’re making to the way you pay.  Look for more options to pay with PayPal coming soon.

We’re interested in your feedback!  Take our short survey to share how you want to pay.  Or, discuss this new offering with our community.

New for Employers – see custom contractor matches

Want a little more help finding the right contractor? Employers, we’ve got a new offering tailored just for you.   After you post a job on oDesk, if we find contractors that match the skills you’re looking for, we will present them to you for consideration. If you see someone you like in your short list, you can then easily invite them to apply to your job.

You don’t need to do anything special to see these matches, but your results will improve by writing a detailed job description. When you include specific skills in your job posting, we’ll instantly show you a list of well-qualified contractors with those skills. If you’re not sure you want to invite the resulting contractors to interview for your current job, you can save them to your Saved Contractors for later review, or move on to search for more contractors filtered by category, feedback, price or other criteria that matter to you.

This matching is intended to supplement your own detailed contractor search and evaluation, and will give you a jumpstart as additional contractors apply directly to your job.

Try posting a job today and see your customized list of contractor matches! If you have feedback, please visit our community forum to share your thoughts.

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Note, if you are an oDesk contractor, you can improve your chances of being shown in these custom matches! Be sure your profile is up-to-date and includes the specific skills supported by your portfolio and work history. Learn more on our forum post for contractors. This is one more way we are working to match you up with the jobs that suit your skills, and introduce new employers to qualified contractors like you!

Search Update

Search is a frequently used and very powerful tool on oDesk. Be it contractor search or job search, oDesk’s primary concern is in creating the best match. When we deliver relevant jobs to strong, qualified contractors, we succeed in delivering good matches. And when matching works, we all win.

Today we focus on contractor search and share with you our thinking on the elements of a successful contractor search.

Are you an employer interested in finding the best contractor for your open job? Are you a skilled contractor making sure that you rank well in contractor searches? Read on…

What is oDesk contractor search made up of?

Our search currently focuses on 3 primary factors:

  1. Keyword match: To determine the match, we examine a contractor’s entire profile, including the objective, skills listed, tests, and past jobs to determine if the contractor would be a good match for this particular search.
  2. Availability: With our search algorithms, we give preference to contractors who are actively and appropriately applying to jobs.
  3. Effectiveness: Effectiveness measures the contractor’s ability to select and be hired for appropriate jobs. New to oDesk? Consider creating the best profile that you can and applying to jobs that match your skills and capabilities. New contractor profiles are ranked based on skills and availability.

We’ve been testing this new search for a couple months and have seen very strong results. Employers are seeing more relevant contractors for their specific jobs, resulting in more invitations and more hires.

Try contractor search today and let us know about your experience. We are listening.

What are some of the things that you can do to get the best search results?

Search tips for Employers:

  • When searching for contractors, start by selecting the appropriate job category and sub category. Include relevant search terms and use the filters on the search page to further refine your search results.
  • When posting your job, provide a detailed description of the job, your requirements and expectations, and fill in the specific skills you’re looking for in the “Skills” field.
  • When reviewing contractors, look at the whole picture. Rates are important and can signal the level of experience and quality the contractor offers. But, more important is reviewing the contractor’s skills, past work history, tests taken, and portfolio items to identify whether they are right for your job.  Contractors new to oDesk won’t have a history and feedback on oDesk. But, they may still be a great match for you. Feel free to ask them for references.

Search tips for Contractors:

  • Choose your job categories carefully.
  • Focus on a small list of skills. What are you best at? What are you an expert at?
  • If you are available, be sure to apply to relevant jobs (see KEYWORD MATCH above).
  • Keep your profile up to date. As you conclude jobs, add the experience to your profile information.
  • If you are unsure of your availability, consider not applying to jobs.
  • Be responsive to the invitations that you receive from employers. If you are not interested in the job, politely let the employers know that you don’t see a fit with the job.
  • When hired, do high quality work that meets your employers’ needs. By doing so, you are more likely to get strong feedback scores and comments, be retained for additional work, and earn more dollars. All of these will increase your ranking in search.
  • New to oDesk? Focus on completing your profile and taking tests that differentiate you. Choose your job categories carefully and focus on a narrow set of skills where you are an expert. Apply to appropriate jobs and show your commitment to the job application by creating specific cover letters addressing the needs of the employer. Detailed profiles, specified skills and appropriate job applications increase your standing in search.

Let us know about your experience with contractor search. We are eager to hear your comments. For more details, or to discuss search with the community, please visit our community forum.

New for Contractors – Find Work application

Following the launch of our new navigation scheme, we are pleased to announce the first contractor-specific application: Find Work.

Find Work Application

Find Work brings together in one place, all things necessary for a successful job search.

Here you can find a list of appropriate jobs that match your skills, your saved searches (Find Jobs) and the ability to modify and present yourself via profile information and test results (Profile and Tests).

The Find Work application also helps you manage the jobs that you have applied for (Job Applications) and keep track of interviews and next steps on a job search.

Let’s take a closer look at what is available and what is coming soon.

Find Jobs

  • Suggested Jobs: Here you have a list of jobs that may be of interest to you. This list is created based on the categories that you have chosen.
  • Saved Searches: Get a daily email of the jobs you’re interested in. You can create a saved search easily.
  • New messages: Note that your active candidacies and job invitations are now listed in one convenient place for you. New messages are called out.

Job Applications

  • Details about your active job applications, including active candidacies, invitations and sent job applications are listed here.
  • Active candidacies are job applications that you are discussing actively with employers.
  • Invitations to interview are initiated by employers based on your job applications or via finding you in the marketplace.
  • Sent job applications list all the jobs that you have applied for, where a response has not yet been received.

Profile

  • The more you tell employers, the easier it is for them to determine the fit between your skills and their job. Complete your profile and watch the green bar grow.
  • Be sure to keep your profile up to date. Have you done any exciting projects lately? Take a moment and add them on to your profile.
  • Don’t forget portfolio items. They show the type of projects that you have done and indicate your level of experience and success.

Tests

  • Tests are a quick way of showing mastery of topics and your skills. Taking tests helps identify you as a serious and committed contractor. Over 340 tests currently are available from oDesk.

We’d like to hear from you. What’s working and what’s not working with our new navigation and our new applications?

Send us direct feedback via our survey or visit our community forum post. We look forward to hearing from you. (see screenshot below)